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An Interview With Kristi Leskinen

 

By. Julie Kehoe

 

5/4/2013

 

I’m Julie.  I’ve worked in the retail shops affiliated with Skis.com for 4 seasons now and have kind of taken my place in the company as the women’s ski expert.  While I work with the boys, ski with the boys, carry extra equipment for the boys because they always forget something and close down the resort bar with the boys, it’s always an exciting opportunity for me to get to interact with other women who share the same passion for skiing I have.  Read on to find out more about one of the most influential women to freestyle skiing according to Freeskier Magazine’s Women’s Issue.

 

Kristi Leskinen

 

Question and Answer with Kristi Leskinen:

 

Julie:

 

So I suppose we should start from the beginning… Tell us a bit about the development of your passion for skiing.

 

Kristi Leskinen:

 

I grew up in Pennsylvania.  My family bought a ski condo at Seven Springs when I was 12, and my passion started.  I skied every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  We were lucky in PA, because the resort was open until 11pm.  When I was 16 I got the opportunity to go away to a ski academy, and the rest is history.

 

Julie:

 

You’re originally from Pennsylvania, most people wouldn’t necessarily consider that a big ski state.  What do you have to say about the influx of professional freestyle skiers coming out of the mid-west and north east recently?

 

Kristi Leskinen:

 

Since the mountains are so small in PA, freestyle is all they have.  They don’t have big powder days and endless challenges on the mountain.  They have terrain parks and night skiing.  It’s the perfect combination to breed freestyle skiers.

 

Julie:

 

The ski world and especially the freestyle and freeride scenes are still heavily male dominated, what needs to be done to get more girls out on the slopes because they want to be skiing and not just being out there because the skier boys are cute?

 

Kristi Leskinen:

 

Heated ski suits!  I think a lot of girls are self-conscious, it’s tough to keep up with the boys, and honestly in some circumstances it’s just not possible.  I think a little encouragement from the guys would go a long, long way. We need their support, and their understanding, that we are doing the best we can.

 

Julie:

 

Keeping up with and hanging out with the boys all the time can be, well I’ll call it interesting.  What tips do you have for the younger girls that are into the freestyle scene?

 

Kristi Leskinen:

 

When you’re young the differences aren’t as drastic.  Learn from them, ask for help, but stand your ground!

 

Julie:

 

I’ve read that you host a freestyle ski competition specifically for girls back in Pennsylvania.  How important is it for you to provide that kind of opportunity for girls? And how has the industry responded to a female specific event like that?

 

Kristi Leskinen:

 

It is no secret in the last few years female skiers haven’t been given the same opportunities as the guys.  We have a fraction of the contests, prize money, endorsements, and media coverage.  It’s the same in a lot of sports, but it doesn’t help the sport grow or the level progress.  I decided to host my own contest, because I didn’t feel any of the others were doing it right.  There has to be some exceptions made for women.  At the end of the day no matter how big our egos, and how much we want to prove ourselves.  We aren’t as strong as the men, and our bodies just aren’t built the same.  I decided I’d rather see a contest with slightly smaller jumps, and more progressive tricks, than lump us in with the guys on a course that is intimidating to even them.  Female Tennis players play 3 sets instead of 5. The women on the LPGA don’t play from the same tees as the men.  Professional female soccer and basketball players don’t play games the same length as the guys. We play softball not baseball.  But when it comes to action sports, (the most dangerous sports in the world) we are thrown onto the same exact course, and I for one don’t believe it’s helping our sport.

 

Julie:

 

The Faction Aria is your pro model, according to the Faction website it does have a women’s Progressive Flex Core and recommends that you shift the mounting position forward which is common in women’s skis.  How has your influence in the development of this ski helped progress your skiing and women’s freestyle skiing for that matter?

 

Kristi Leskinen:

 

I skied for years on unisex skis, and I am very excited that women’s specific skis are taking off.  The flex pattern in a ski is really important, and a softer flex allows a woman to get the full potential out of a ski.

 

Kristi Leskinen Airborne

 

 

Julie:

 

In addition to your Faction sponsorship you are also sponsored by Giro, what are they doing to help get women out on the slopes and having a good time?

 

Kristi Leskinen:

 

Women’s specific helmets; designed for looks, comfort, and performance.  I had a serious head injury a few years ago, and I never ski hard without my helmet.

 

Julie:

 

In addition to your Faction sponsorship you are also sponsored by Oakley, what are they doing to help get women out on the slopes and having a good time?

 

Kristi Leskinen:

 

I have been lucky enough to work with Oakley for 10 years and they really are the best! They are making huge strides into the women’s specific market, with an enormous array of women’s products, support, and marketing.  They have two women’s specific goggles:  The Stockholm and the new Elevate.  Their outerwear is unmatched, and the new active line is my favorite. Please check it out for yourself. They take testing, and designing product very seriously and always give their athletes a chance to weigh in. I think Oakley is at the forefront when it comes to giving women the performance products that can “Elevate” us to the next level.

 

Julie:

 

You currently ski out of Mammoth Mountain and are partnered with them/sponsored by them.  What suggestions do you have for women who are considering a ski trip to Mammoth?  Is it ski able by all abilities?

 

Kristi Leskinen:

 

I’ve traveled the world skiing, and I’ve settled in Mammoth for many reasons.  Mammoth is in California, so the weather is beautiful.  On any given day, Mammoth is 10-20 degrees warmer than any mountain in Colorado.  At the same time Mammoth also gets more snow than any of those resorts, allowing it to stay open way into the spring and sometimes summer.  Last year Mammoth closed on July 4th!  Who doesn’t like skiing in a T-Shirt? Mammoth also has a huge amount of terrain, and several terrain parks.  If you’re a beginner, there are jumps for you, and if you are a pro, you’ll be in heaven!

 

Julie:

 

Is Mammoth offering any women’s ski clinics or girls weekends that our ladies investigating Skis.com should take advantage of this year?

 

Kristi Leskinen:

 

I’ll have to look into that one.

 

Julie:

 

If you could encourage women to do one thing what would it be?

 

Kristi Leskinen:

 

Do it all!

 

 

Kristi Leskinen 

 

 

 
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